Stargardts, Saffron and Vitamin A

June 30, 2015

The following is from Lauren Tappan:

If anyone with Stargardts has been following my blog/notes
on taking Saffron instead of Vitamin A for my eyes, you might want
to read this.
I was taking Saffron and found it helpful  in stabilizing and
improving my eyesight.  Because I have Stargardts, I cannot absorb
Vitamin A very well so I started taking Saffron as a substitute for
Vitamin A.
Unfortunately, Saffron has also led to some systemic inflammation.  Therefore, I am no longer taking
Saffron and am now taking Visiocell.  You can find Visiocell on the web.
    Hope this helps.
For more info:

Macular disease management simplified

June 28, 2015

The ZEISS Retina Workplace helps eye care professionals get automated access to relevant clinical information at the point of decision. While redefining workflow efficiency in retina practices, the new ZEISS ophthalmology software makes it easier to manage macular diseases such as monitoring patients undergoing anti-VEGF therapy.

Many physicians perform more than 1,000 injections annually, and treating up to 30 patients per day with anti-VEGF injections is not uncommon in many practices. Inefficiencies in this process easily can add up to several hours of extra work per week, This software helps ease record keeping and reimbursements.

for more info:

New AMD treatments in sight

June 28, 2015

Macular degeneration involves deterioration or damage to the macula, a small spot near the center of the retina that is responsible for providing sharp central vision. Without a healthy macula, it becomes increasingly difficult to read, sew, drive or handle most routine daily activities.

Even as the condition worsens, the patient may notice few symptoms until a crisis point occurs. As an effect of AMD, it’s possible for an eye with 20/20 vision to become legally blind within six months.

everal new treatments are in late-stage clinical trials, and a device to allow early detection has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The AdaptDX Dark Adaptometer is based on the observation that night vision problems are among the first to be noticed by AMD patients. One reason is that drusen (tiny yellow deposits in your eyes) can block the passage of vitamin A from blood vessels to the retina. Vitamin A is crucial for both night vision and adaptation from light to dark.

The Adaptometer is a large box with a darkened tunnel through which the patient looks. Tests with this box can identify the presence and seriousness of drusen and other retinal changes.

When drusen are detected at an early stage, lifestyle changes may be all that’s needed — weight loss, smoking cessation and antioxidant vitamins such as Occuvite. When the need for more aggressive treatment arrives, timely action is possible with the help of the Dark Adaptometer.

Animal studies are indicating that it may soon be possible to deliver significant concentrations of anti-VEGF drugs to the retina through eye drops. Other animal studies have focused on MDM2 inhibitors that target the leaking blood vessels themselves rather than the growth factor. The result is a more direct and lasting effect.

Even more promising final stage research is focusing on low-dose radiation as a means of controlling the fast-growing blood vessels.

for more info:

Foods to help fight vision loss

June 28, 2015

Jennifer Thompson and Dr. Johanna Seddon, a leading eye doctor and researcher, teamed up to write the cookbook “Eat Right for Your Sight,” a guide to help you protect your sight beginning in your kitchen.

“If you take away one thing from this cookbook, it’s the new holy trinity of food: three different colors a day,” said Thompson.

Think of the red in peppers and pomegranates; the purple in beets; the green in leafy green veggies; and the yellow in butternut squash. That’s where the nutrients are found for eye health. Vitamins A and E, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold water fish, make a direct impact on your sight.

for more info:

Positive Results for Macular Degeneration Stem Cell Research

June 28, 2015

Ocata Therapeutics, Inc. (“Ocata” or “the Company”; NASDAQ: OCAT), a leader in the field of Regenerative Ophthalmology™, announced positive results.

The results of these trials in 31 patients with dry Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy (SMD) provide additional evidence supporting the safety and tolerability of hESC-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Some patients were followed for up to 4 years and none of the patients showed evidence of hyperproliferation, rejection or serious adverse ocular or systemic safety issues related to the transplanted tissue.

The abstract reported that all of the patients, 26 from the US studies and 5 from the South Korean study, experienced improved or stable, best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA). These studies suggest that hESC-derived cells could provide a potentially safe new source of cells for regenerative medicine.

for more info:

The Uncertainty of Stem Cell Treatments

June 5, 2015

For almost a decade, stem cell treatment has held out hope as a treatment for macular degeneration. Hope, but not FDA approved certainty.

Popular Science magazine has just written an article titled ARE NEW STEM CELL THERAPIES MIRACLES IN A BOTTLE–OR JUST A DANGEROUS FORM OF SNAKE OIL?

Their review is mixed and full of unknowns. Some wonderful successes and some failures. Leigh Turner, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics, finds the various SVF therapies dubious. “No one has proved they’re safe or effective,” he says. “People are paying a lot of money for these treatments without any assurances.”

After 7 years of chronic back pain, the author was”cured” after a single treatment. But he still worries about recurrence. When you sign up to be a guinea pig, nothing is certain, and only time will tell.

For more info:

Consumer Reports gives clear advice on glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration

May 11, 2015


The only way to cure cataracts­—a clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs vision­—is with surgery to replace the bad lens with an artificial one. Though the procedure is very safe and effective, some doctors recommend needless tests or push newer types of lenses that pose risks.

Skip unneeded presurgery tests

Cataract surgery, usually performed as an outpatient procedure, requires only a local anesthetic to numb your eye. Research shows that for most people the only pre-op requirements are that you be free of infection and have normal blood pressure and heart rate. Yet many doctors routinely order other tests, including blood counts and electrocardiograms, as would be necessary before a major procedure. That’s overkill, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Those tests can come with high co-pays and lead to false alarms that may delay surgery or force you to undergo additional tests, such as a chest X-ray or ultrasound. So ask whether your doctor plans to recommend such tests and, if so, whether you can skip them.

Be wary of premium lenses

In standard cataract surgery, doctors remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial, monofocal lens, which provides clear images at either near or far vision. There are multifocal lenses that do both, so you don’t also have to wear glasses.

But multifocal lenses cost up to $4,000—and usually aren’t covered by insurance. More worrisome, a 2012 review found that while the lenses provided better near vision, they also produced more complaints of halos and glare. Other research shows that people with multifocal lenses are also more likely to need repeat surgery.

One time you might consider a premium intraocular lens: if you have an astigmatism, or an irregularly shaped cornea. Special lenses, called toric lenses, can correct that problem, says David Sholiton, M.D., an ophthalmologist at the Cleveland Clinic. And studies reveal that most people who get them are satisfied. But you will probably have to pay $1,000 or more out of your own pocket, because insurance rarely covers them.


More than 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half know it. That makes screening important. Treatment is key, too, because glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. But treatment, which often requires several different daily eyedrops, can be expensive and complicated.

Get the right tests

Glaucoma often goes undiagnosed because it causes no symptoms until vision declines, at which point treatment no longer helps. So people ages 40 to 60 should consider being examined by an ophthalmologist or optometrist every three to five years; those over 60 need an eye exam every one to two years.

Know you may need more than one test

Though many eye doctors screen for the disease with tonometry—a test that measures eye pressure—that’s not enough. Relying only on intraocular pressure when screening for glaucoma could miss up to half of all cases, research suggests, says San Francisco ophthalmol­ogist Andrew Iwach, M.D., a spokesman for the AAO. So the exam should also include an ophthalmoscopy, which involves examining your optic nerve. If you have elevated eye pressure but no other signs of glaucoma, you may not need to start treatment, which can be expensive. Instead, your doctor might screen you more often.

Go for generics

The most common treatment for glaucoma is eyedrops known as prostaglandin analogs (PGAs), which lower eye pressure. Generic versions of most of those drugs are much cheaper than the brand-name versions. And per­haps because of the lower cost, patients taking them tend to do a better job of using the drops on schedule, which is important, according to an April 2015 study in the journal Ophthalmology.

Know you may need more than one drug

Many people need several drugs to control glaucoma, which usually means adding a beta-blocker drop. In that case, ask your doctor about drugs that combine medications, minimizing the number of drops.

Use proper eyedrop technique

Tilt your head back and pull down the lower lid with your finger to form a pocket. Hold the dropper tip close to the eye without touching it, and squeeze one drop into the pocket. Close your eye for 2 to 3 minutes, tip your head down, and gently press on the inner corner of the eye. Try not to blink. If you need more than one drop in the same eye, wait at least 5 minutes between drops to let the first drop absorb.

Macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. for people 50 and older, damages the macula, the small area near the center of your retina, causing vision loss in the center of your visual field. The advanced disease comes in two main forms: dry AMD, the more common variety, which is treated mainly with dietary supplements; and wet AMD, the more serious form, which requires monthly injections from an ophthalmologist with one of three drugs. There are controversies about both the supplements and the drugs.

Get the right supplement

Research funded by the National Institutes of Health has shown that a specific blend of vitamins and minerals known as AREDS—vitamins C and E, plus copper, lutein, zeaxanthin, and zinc—cuts the risk by about 25 percent that dry AMD will progress. “It’s really the only treatment,” says Neil Bress­ler, M.D., chief of the retina division at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

But not all eye supplements contain the proper formulation. In January 2015 CVS was sued for incorrectly market­-ing its Advanced Eye Health supplement as comparable to the formula used in published studies. And in an analysis of 11 eye-health supplements in the March 2015 issue of Ophthalmology, only four contained the right mix: PreserVision Eye Vitamin AREDS Formula, PreserVision Eye Vitamin Lutein Formula, PreserVision AREDS2 Formula, and ICAPS AREDS.

Be wary if your doctor suggests a genetic test to determine which supplement is best for you. Remember: Those supplements have only been shown to help treat people diagnosed with AMD. Don’t bother taking any supplement with the hope that it will prevent the disease.

Consider inexpensive drugs

Each of the three drugs used to treat wet AMD—aflibercept (Eylea), bevacizumab (Avastin), and ranibizumab (Lucentis)—work equally well in slowing vision loss. But Avastin costs just $50 per month, compared with $2,000 for the others. So experts recommend Avastin as the first choice for most people with wet AMD. But some doctors resist that advice.

First, Avastin is officially approved only as a cancer drug and doesn’t come in appropriate doses for AMD. So doctors need to get the medicine from a compounding pharmacy, which combines, alters, or—in this case—repackages ingredients. That poses some risk of contamination, and there have been reports of people being harmed by bacteria that got into Avastin. So some doctors, especially those without access to a reliable compounding pharmacy, may hesitate to prescribe the drug.

Some other physicians may have a financial reason for skipping Avastin: Medicare reimburses doctors less for it. That might help your doctor’s wallet, but it can hurt yours: People without sup­plemental Medicare may pay up to $400 out of pocket for Lucentis, compared with just $10 for Avastin.

Our advice: Consider Avastin, especially if you don’t have supplemental Medicare coverage. But ask whether your doctor’s compounding pharmacy is accredited by the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board, which means it must adhere to quality standards.


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